Crimson’s Creative Challenge #14: Four and twenty blackbirds

Marsh Road

CCC#14

‘Blackbirds!’ called Aunty Evie, hopping excitedly from foot to foot.

‘They not blackbirds, dumbo,’ said Cass. ‘They’re crows.’ He limped on towards the telegraph poles, lame foot dragging on the cracked road. ‘Twice the size of sodding blackbirds.’

‘Leave her be,’ I mumbled. ‘Every black bird is a blackbird to her.’

She was singing a nursery rhyme now, reedy, rushy voice a mix of adult and child.

‘Simple,’ muttered Cass. ‘Brain like a bag of candy floss.’

Up ahead, Evie struggled through long dried grass, hand outstretched to a boundary fence. Beyond, the field was already dull, waiting to sleep.

Cass pointed with his cane. ‘Stop her, will you.’

I saw what she was reaching for – a row of wings pinned to the wire, flapping a black rainbow in the wind.

Somewhere we’d taken a wrong turn.

***

Written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge#14. See here to join in.

Advertisements

Friday Fictioneers: Red sky


PHOTO PROMPT © Renee Heath

There used to be a saying about shepherds and skies – do you know it?

I sit awake nights, trying to remember the sky Before.

The nights the wolves grow brave, snuffling round camp with their hollow bellies and frosted eyes. The nights cold shoos the black bears from the mountains and I sit vigil with my rusted rifle, cradling our last shells like a miser with his gold.

Memories of the world Before are slipping from me, you see, turning to dreams, to fictions. Only that rhyme proves the sky wasn’t always red.

Tell me you remember it.

***

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See the pic and write a tale to suit. Visit here to join in the fun.

What Pegman Saw : Gimcracks and Gewgaws

Image: Google Street View

The shop bell sounded.

Quiver stepped through the low doorway, tall frame bunched. The winter sun sagged low in the sky, but the crowded little shop must be dark on the brightest summer day. He ran an eye over a clowder of prowling china cats, carved wooden spoons and printed tea towels.

‘Gimcracks and gewgaws,’ he breathed.

Movement caught his eye. In a display case by the window were globs of amber, the motes of a past age caught in each. He peered closer at one, a clump the colour of boiled honey, a tiny fly caught at its heart. He waited, patient as a stone.

A wing twitched.

‘A conjuring trick,’ said a voice from behind him. ‘But it helps them sell. And the rent must be paid.’

‘Cheap,’ muttered Quiver. He turned to the figure behind the counter, stout and greasy as ever. ‘Hello, Pounce. We must talk.’

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View. This week we visit Tallinn, Estonia. See here to join in, share and read other stories.

Note

Gimcrack and gewgaw mean similar things – gimcrack being something showy but badly made, gewgaw being a showy, trifling thing. So Quiver is really repeating himself here, I just liked the sound of these peculiar words together.

FFfAW: Bittersweet


This week’s photo prompt is provided by Jodi McKinney. Thank you Jodi!

‘What about this one, Gamma?’ Solly held out a glossy red berry.

Tan looked up from her own basket of fruit. ‘Bittersweet. Eat a handful of those and you’ll be running to the privy for a night and a day.’

Solly let the baubles fall, crushing them with the toe of her boot.

The sun was high, heat building under Tan’s arms, gathering in the channel of her spine. She closed her eyes for a moment, focused on the breeze, how it carried the scent of the distant shore, the quarrel of gulls.

The lights went out twenty years ago today. How had anyone survived those early days? How had she? The loss of all they’d known, all the comforts they’d taken for granted …

‘This is a funny one, Gamma – all spiky.’

She opened her eyes to find another berry under her nose, Solly’s eyes sparkling like fireworks.

After all they’d suffered, here was her silver lining.

*********************************

Written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

Bittersweet is a member of the nightshade family with glossy red berries that can cause sickness or even death.

Friday Fictioneers : The Hollow Girl


PHOTO PROMPT © Russell Gayer

‘How long has she been missing?’ Papa pulled on his boots, his braces still hanging loose, bouncing at his thighs.

‘An hour ago.’ But I was reading up in the attic before that, hiding from my sister, avoiding the grief that hung about her like a shadow. I stared up the hill, towards the foot of the glacier. ‘She wouldn’t go up there alone.’

The old Nancy wouldn’t, but this hollow girl that had replaced her, who drifted like mist through the house since the accident … Maybe.

‘If I’m not back by nightfall …’ The door slammed behind Papa’s back.

***************************

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Field’s Friday Fictioneers. See here to join in, read and comment.

What a happy place to be, back on Friday Fictioneers. And what a cracking, inspiring photo too. Thanks Russell.

What Pegman Saw : Midday on the highway

By midday we’d reached the highway.

The rain that had soaked us through in the night had stopped by then, but still the road was slick with runoff, every passing truck throwing up a mist browned with mud and grease until our clothes were heavy once again.

After an hour of waiting for someone to pull over, the children were restless, tired of an ‘adventure’ that never ceased, of rest that never came.

‘There are too many of us,’ muttered Rudo, kicking at an empty soda can. ‘No one will stop for eight.’ His voice lowered further as he cast me a dark look, but the words arrived sharp and bright as lightning in my ear. ‘No one will take that child.’

Danai wriggled in her sling, sticky warm on my back, milky breath against my ear.

My child would never be part of this world.

*********************

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View. This week, we visit Harare, Zimbabwe. See here to join in and to read and comment.

What Pegman Saw : The Last Freeway

Mads was getting tired now, her boots tearing up the fallen leaves and twigs like miniature bulldozers.

At first Col had scolded her, worried they were leaving tracks the Militia might follow.  But as the sun bottomed on the horizon the forest grew quiet and still, every branch snap making him jump, smothering his whispers. 

He tried to focus on the plan. 

Everyone in HomeState knew the stories. If you cross the Last Freeway and scale the Wall, the Grey City authorities put you in a holding camp until you’re shipped back across the border. 

But in the camps they fed you, give you clean clothes … medicine.

Mads coughed, skinny limbs shivering. The rattle was worse. He’d seen the red in her spit, the stuff she’d tried to stamp into the forest floor so he didn’t worry.

One more day, he thought. Just one more.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as it’s starting point. This week, we visit Frankfurt, Germany. See here to join in.